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Posted at: Jan 7, 2018, 1:34 AM; last updated: Jan 7, 2018, 1:34 AM (IST)

Yes! you can

Explore the many ways to introduce change in your life to make the New Year more meaningful and enriching

Roopinder Singh

New Year is usually the time when we all take stock of what we have achieved in the year gone by, and what we wish to be in the next 12 months. Indeed, resolutions are made and uttered with conviction. We want to be happier, more productive, to have a more fulfilling life. Yet, often these remain just that, resolutions. We often fail to take what we have decided to its logical end.

We must all remember that all this is possible, and in fact, the fact that you are reading this means that you have already taken the first step towards a better you in 2018 — awareness is the beginning of self-improvement.

There are any number of experts, life coaches who give advice on what you can do, or what you must do. We have all read what they say. They all feel that they have a unique message, yet the more you read such advice, the more you realise that what they say has many similarities. This makes our task easier. We can, thus, have an easy compendium of advice, gleaned from various sources over a long period, coupled with a healthy dose of common sense.

Let’s go through some important measures that you can take to improve your life, and yes, you can make a difference, naturally, after taking small steps towards your destination. All these activities will help you, some more and some less, but what you get out of these totally depends on how you use these tools.

Sleep on time: As a generation, most of us are sleep-deprived today. There are too many attention-grabbing devices and temptations. Getting into the bed on time is a great way to start the year, provided you do not succumb to the TV-in-bed lure. Try reading, instead, or better still, talking to your partner.

Meditate: Yogis and gurus of yore showed us how important it is to look within by meditating. It is spiritually enhancing and cleanses the mind. Meditation techniques are many, the experience is unique to each individual, but there is no doubt about its ability to enrich. Meditation is a great stress-buster, too.

Introspect: Devote some time each day to look inwards. The humdrum of day-to-day routine is such that it prevents people from thinking, contemplating, introspecting. This robs them of the most critical faculty — of self-evaluation. As we introspect, we are not posing; we can open ourselves to great scrutiny without any fear of social censure. What a wonderful opportunity to learn about ourselves!

Exercise: Just a bit helps, more helps much more. Walk, mornings or evenings, any time you can grab. Cycle if you can, join a gym if you are younger. Physical activity has a remarkable influence on one’s mental state and contributes mightily to a person’s wellbeing. 

Eat healthy: Yes, home food is the best, and within that, there are minor modifications that can have a major impact. Curb sugar intake, eat your greens and try to eat less of the fried stuff. You have all heard it before, but it works, only if you practice. Moderation is the mantra, however, crash dieting does not work in the long run.

Read: Even for the YouTube generation, the written word is still the largest source of knowledge. What we read shapes our mind, and fiction is a wonderful way to escape the world and go on a journey into the unknown. Yes, if you want to get ahead in life, you must read.

Tackle stress: Long seen as an inevitability of modern life, stress takes its toll, unless you use it as a tool to tackle problems that are causing it. A change in how you look at situations drastically alters your reaction to them, stress becomes an assistant to channelise your thoughts and energies positively.

Show gratitude: A stranger helps us and we feel gratitude. Take the next step, express it, let the person know, and while you are at it, don’t forget your loved ones and your family; they do the most for you and their efforts often go unrecognised. 

Give back: India has a long tradition of people giving back to society, but the super-rich of India have not been able to match the philanthropic efforts of their western counterparts. Yet, the Millennials have many options. There are, literally, thousands of streams of effort currently underway in the country, and you can help in various ways, by donating time, skill or money — your choice.

Stop procrastination: The time to do all this is NOW. The biggest problem that we face is one of procrastination, putting off what you can do today until tomorrow, and that tomorrow never comes. One way to deal with it is to divide the jobs into smaller chunks, and then getting down to tackling them, one at a time.

Save and invest: We have always been told to save, but then there is the allure of all these new things that are now available in the market. The only way of securing your future is to save. Savings do need to be invested, and for this look beyond the traditional fixed deposits, into the realm of mutual funds, but shy of ‘miraculous’ opportunities that crop up. Investments should always seek to strike the right balance between safety and returns.

Nourish positivity: The negative tends to have a greater impact on our minds than the positive, but it is a poison that corrodes our being. Once you recognise the problem, once you identify your negativity, fight it by changing it. Your thoughts may be bleak, but your prospects may well turn out to be better than you imagine. There is always a more positive way of looking at things, and that helps in improving how we perceive life.

Social media sabbatical: How much of our self-worth is determined by the social media like Facebook? Too much is the short answer. Take a break. Let your life return to the time when face time was spent face-to-face with family and friends. Seriously, knowing who is taking a vacation where is not helping you, neither is reading about how wonderful their lives are.

Now you have all these suggestions/imperatives/commandments, take these as you want. Naturally, not all will work for everyone. Just as each of us is unique, we will have to find out the special combination that works for us. Yes, we can make a change, and even if we achieve a bit, we have moved from where we were. Now, that’s a happy thought. Isn’t it.

Yes! You can! As you get on the path of self-improvement, an important tip to remember is to that you need to work out a system so that you can measure your achievements. The improvements will be incremental, and the expectation is often too great. Please be forgiving towards yourself. If you are not able to achieve what you thought was possible, perhaps your goal was too ambitious. You can cheat everyone but yourself, so be honest, be realistic. Be the agent of your change. 

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